A potentially disruptive new technology developed by an Israeli start-up takes the concept of addressability to a new extreme: It detects your actual address and uses it to scrape and gather all the data associated with where you live.
The application is so powerful, say its developers, that it can know when you’re at home or away in order to serve ads relevant to your physical proximity.
The method, which was developed by an ex-Israeli military technologist, is based on consumers opting in to an offer, but nonetheless is likely to draw the attention of consumer privacy advocates by raising the stakes about what is knowable about you based on your digital media footprints.
“Your home address is the master key. Once we get that, we use it to open up a wealth of information,” explains Gil Margulis, CEO of Reveelz, the venture he started with his brother and company CMO Oran and CTO Ziv Isaiah, a co-founder of Boxee.
The technology, which has been granted a U.S. patent, utilizes a proprietary method that can determine someone’s residential address simply by opting into a Web or mobile offer.
The founders claim the method is “95% accurate,” and recently concluded a test with American Media’s OK! magazine to prove it. The test offered consumers access to “premium” content in exchange for opting in to receive “targeted advertising.” Once they opted in, Reveelz's method scours a variety of publicly available databases, such as the U.S. Census, and via a series of cross-references utilizing machine algorithms, narrows it down to one physical address to that individual.
Once a consumer’s physical address is identified, Reveelz uses it identify information about the consumer that matches other marketing databases.
“The variety of databases that exist were all referenced to that home address,” explains Gil Margulis, citing Simmons, Nielsen and Acxiom data in particular.
The Margulis brothers, American Jews who repatriated to Israel and incubated Reveelz as part of Tel Aviv’s burgeoning tech start-up community, say they are still searching for specific applications for the method. They add it “solves a major pain point” for Madison Avenue: The ability to identify mobile device users without cookies.
“We’re going to call them brownies, because that sounds better than cookies,” says Jon Bond, a founder of KBS+ -- who is now a consultant and investor and is one of several high-profile Madison Avenue advisors to Reveelz. Another is Robin Kent, the former CEO of Interpublic’s UM unit, who is now a serial entrepreneur, investor and consultant.
Both Bond and Kent believe that Reveelz's technology could disrupt the way brand marketers identify and target consumers -- going well beyond crude Web browser cookies, MAC addresses and other device targeting means. Once the system detects a user’s residential address, they can use it to associate almost anything else a brand would like to know about the consumers.
“If you know their home address, you can see if they’re at home or not,” explains Gil Margulis, adding: “If they’re at home ,you can target a different message than if they’re out.”
Ultimately, the brothers say they would like to amass a database of user IDs based on Reveelz’s “brownies” so that they could be used to target advertising, optimize ecommerce and help publishers serve the most relevant content to their users.They concede the method might generate scrutiny from consumer privacy advocates, but assert that it never actually discloses a consumer’s address for the purpose of retargeting them. It just uses it as the key for identifying other information that can be used to reliably target them.
Assigning a home address to a user and then monitoring their web activity is no different than a warrantless wiretap. Far different than zip code advertising.
It's interesting how much online technology in use today originated with the Israeli military, intelligence services, or their members back in civilian life. While most people are not aware of it, we probably couldn't work, shop or conduct secure activities online without software that originated in Israel. This has been the case for decades - see Checkpoint and ICQ (theoriginal instant messenger framework) as old examples. Of course, the military and Mossad needed the software to keep an eye on dangerous operatives, nearby and far away. But the techniques have practical application in more innocuous targeting applications like those described here.
This should help scare the living shit out of you. "We are begging to be controlled."
Apparently, by "Opt-ing In" to an offer the technology triggers your home address (not sure exactly how that works but that is what the article says). The article also says "It's 95% accurate" which suggests to me that the consumer "Opting in" doesn't know that know their address is being scrapped for future placements. Consumer groups will definately weigh in on that.
This part though is the creepiest -
Once they opted in, Reveelz's method scours a variety of publicly available databases, such as the U.S. Census, and via a series of cross-references utilizing machine algorithms, narrows it down to one physical address to that individual.
This is an invasion of privacy. Why would I agree to something that would know if I'm home or not. Where's our protections. Hello Government? Hello? Bueller?
So, that's why I rarely opt in to anything. Because some marketers will stretch an "opt" so far it snaps, and don't care. And they assume we don't care, either, or can't do anything about it.
I suppose in single-person households which get no visitors it could be workable. Scary, but workable.
so, an interesting twist, but more pr spin that anything. what's being described is already possible at massive scale without a consumer opt-in path. there are dozens of cross-device speciliists using the open bidding RTB ecosystem to see billions of devices, and are associting those back to IP addresses or more sophesticated lat/long approaches to get at households.
I'm not really understanding the tin-foil hats here. Plenty of companies are already scraping census data or marrying online and offline data. David Roberson is 110% right. Nothing new to be afraid of. Just a new twist on the same old "my targeting tech can beat up your targeting tech."
The reality as Corey says above, nothing new here... once you have the machine ID, its over... Keep in mind just cause you can target to this level, doesn't mean the comsumer is going to make the action that the advertiser is looking for. Its still nothing when you intergrate IoT and OTT with the mobile and desktop. We already have this techology in place in the marketplace already.
One aspect that is just not being discussed is the creative delivery. If the ad is irrelevant, off-target or plain bad, it doesn't matter if you know where I am... I am still not going to be persuaded.
To me, this brings a completely new conversation to the table: can we... should we... automate creative?
Because at a very basic, pedestrian level (deliver a pizza coupon to me in my office around lunch time) it works. But at a higher level (should you deliver a car ad to me while I'm in my lunch break at Chili's?) knowing where I am doesn't automatically mean persuasion.
It's an interesting and potentially game-changing technology, but should be followed by a complete revamping of the messaging strategy.